Dirty Bird

 

 

 

Y’all knew my break from reading Stephen King wouldn’t last long! This may be my last King book for the year — it’s certainly the one on my to-read list for this year… there’s only a few left now! Next up is Misery: about a writer that is held captive by his #1 fan. Popularized by the film starring Kathy Bates, I was excited to work my way through this one. I also rented the movie (because why not?) to compare. King’s work has always stuck with me, and I’m glad I finally read Misery. It might not be my favorite, but Annie Wilkes is a stand-out, unforgettable character.

 misery, stephen king, kathy bates

 

Many already know the story, but to recap for those that don’t, Misery is about a writer, (as so many King books are) Paul Sheldon, who has a car accident while driving in a snow storm and is saved coincidentally by a big burly woman, Annie Wilkes, who happens to be his number one fan. She also just happens to be cockadoody crazy. Annie nurses Paul back to a some-what better health than before. As a kind of sick payment, she forces Paul to write a sequel to her favorite book series he wrote. In the meantime, she’s got him hooked on pain killers and confined to a single room.

I love books that get a reaction from me, and I found myself really cringing at some parts: especially the iconic *SPOILER* axe-to-the foot *END SPOILER* scene. Also appreciated was the background on Annie through her scrapbook. In fact, I would have loved reading even more, especially with her family, her college days, knocking off all those people in the hospital, her marriage… Long illness, short illness, whatever the case, Annie is one dirty bird that I can’t get enough of. Can there be a prequel please?? Yes, the premise of the book is interesting, but I find it to be more of a character study on poor Annie here. How often do you read a book that’s like a moving portrait of a person?

This book made me think about those times I’ve blathered on in front of authors I’ve met. Honestly, hanging around someone day in and day out for nearly a year like in Misery would tarnish their image for me. Once you realize authors, (celebrities, etc) are really just people, and they live boring lives just like the rest of us, it’s just not as exciting anymore. So let’s keep things exciting! Let authors roam free!

Verdict: READ THE BOOK. Though the movie was good in its own way, this is yet another Stephen King book that lives a better life on the page than on the screen. Absent from the movie are the cut-a-ways to Paul’s in-progress novel, Misery’s Return, which I found oddly fascinating. And what happened to the axe? Instead it’s a sledgehammer? Hey, at least Annie Wilkes is still cooky, somehow lovable, yet despicable. Kathy Bates made the movie.  I don’t often say this of adaptations to the screen, but Misery the movie was a very watered down version of the book. It’s like weak tea. It’s still tea, you still get the smell and taste of tea, it’s just not as flavorful. Misery the book ranks high on my most-liked King book list. The movie… needs to be steeped longer!

That’s all for now folks! 🙂

PS
Technically I listened to this book, and the audio is amazing. Brilliant job!

A Fever in my Blood

 

Boy, this took me long enough! I finally, finally, got around to reading Rebel Heart by Moira Young, book 2 in the Dustlands trilogy. I happened upon Blood Red Road (book 1) while I was in Canada one summer. Without having heard much about it before, I picked it up, because I couldn’t leave a bookstore empty-handed. Honestly, I didn’t begin reading it until a few months later, but once I did, I flew through the pages. Once I realized there were to be two more books following, I pre-ordered the titles as soon as they became available. That was a few years ago now, and since I loved BRR so much, I wanted to be sure Rebel Heart made it on my list of books to read this year.
Rebel Heart, Blood Red Road, Dustlands, Moira Young

 

The first thing you’ll notice about the Dustlands trilogy is the way it is written. That may sound sort of generic, but flip through the pages and you’ll see there are no quotation marks indicating speech. It is also written in the vernacular of the world. G’s are dropped from words ending with ‘-ing,’ instead of ‘for’ it’s ‘fer,’ rather than ‘afraid’ it’s ‘afeared,’ ‘can’t’ is ‘cain’t,’ etc. Honestly, it felt really odd for the first 40 pages or so, but soon you find yourself in the rhythm and you don’t even notice. Sometimes, the line spacing even makes the prose feel like verse… which may sound weird, but it works!

Moira Young does a marvelous job of supplying the reader with just enough detail. Sort of like a watercolor painting, her words suggest description while leaving us to fill in the specifics with our own imagination. It’s remarkable how liberating that feels… but I didn’t realize it until after I was through reading the book. It’s not like other writers that will ramble for pages about the bark of a tree.

Rebel Heart starts with a shift in perspective – we hear from another character’s point of view. Immediately I thought about Ally Condie’s Matched trilogy, wondering if this book would follow the same pattern: book 1, one perspective – book 2, two perspectives – book 3, three perspectives. In this case, the shift serves as a prologue. The book picks up pretty much where the first left off. (I’m purposefully leaving out characters and plot points for spoilers — Yeah, I’m being nice this time. You’re welcome.) Again, it took me a little while to get into the stylized rhythm, but I adjusted. The character names were all familiar, but I had to remind myself who was who from the previous book.

Saba, the protagonist, is the same as she was – stubborn, fierce, and unrelenting. After the events of the first book, it’s rewarding to see her struggle and develop through this next installment. She’s not perfect. Often I feel as though these strong-female-protagonists-in-a-post-apocalyptic-dystopian-world-for-young-adults all start to blend together. Not so with Saba. Her inner conflict is so… I wanna say textured, but that sounds weird… It’s pebbly and rocky, if that makes sense. And a few times, her decisions made me go “what?!” — and THAT’S what makes her such an interesting read. Saba is easily my favorite protagonist in this genre so far.

Oh, and speaking of genre. Something I should mention: this is very much a Western. That may shock you readers, but I urge you to give it a try. There are a lot of John Ford and John Wayne influences… In fact, does anyone remember The Searchers (1956 film)? If you liked that, you’ll definitely like this series. Now that I think about it, I suppose book 1 sort of follows along that same kind of story too.

Hopefully it won’t be another 3 years before I read the final book, Raging Star!

 

No Awful Books – EVER!

A few months ago, I found a new website through Twitter called Blogging for Books. Immediately, I registered. The premise is simple: Choose a book, read the book, review the book. As someone who is desperately trying not to purchase any more books, I’m thankful for this little loophole of a website. That said, in my new job, I’m finding it increasingly more difficult to actually READ rather than LISTEN to books. Hopefully this doesn’t disqualify me from my review, but I happened to find the audiobook version and got through the book that way, since I was having a difficult time paging through it. So here we go: my review of Mother, Mother.

 mother, mother koren zailckas

Touted as “Mommie Dearest” and “Psycho,” I had hopes this book would be thrilling and emotionally charged, perhaps cultish. Unfortunately, by the time I finished, I was still waiting for a crazy murder scene. I will say that there was a lot of emotional manipulation, but the twist was a smidge predictable… but that’s just my own impression! There are lots of people that wouldn’t pick up on it! I still enjoyed this book and would recommend it — in fact, I have recommended it.

We’ve got a mother and father, both of whom are very concerned with her public appearance. The father is a closet recovering alcoholic. Their eldest daughter has run off and has pretty much been disowned. The middle daughter has been blamed for harming their younger autistic + epileptic brother. So as the story chugs along, we eventually discover that (kind of spoiler🙂 the eldest daughter had gotten pregnant out of wedlock. Middle daughter is in hanging out in a mental institution getting post cards/letters from eldest daughter. Little brother is being coddled and soothed by mom. (Oooh… maybe that’s where the Psycho-Norman-Bates reference comes from.) Every chapter alternated viewpoints between middle daughter and little brother. I’d say most of the story progression happened with the daughter’s chapters, while the son’s chapters provided vignettes illustrating the mother’s behavior… which is in many ways repeated in the daughter’s chapters. I’m not saying those chapters weren’t necessary, but the son didn’t really provide us with anything we couldn’t gather from the other viewpoint. Furthermore, he didn’t experience any character progression like the father and daughter did. But that’s being really picky… and I feel criticizing a character that has a disorder like that… He just felt a little one-note.

Sparing you any more spoilers, secrets are revealed, and most characters meet their appropriate ending. Reading through this again, I really don’t mean to be so critical. I did enjoy the book. I blame the blurbs and marketing for this book — I was expecting something more scary. So my expectations were a bit skewed… that’s all.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

I’ve Been Featured…

I’m totally geeking out right now.

I was interviewed by the lovely Nicole Brinkley (@nebrinkley) a little while ago and it was published online today! How awesome is it that I’m featured on YA Interrobang?? VERY! I’m so appreciative to have been a part of Nicole’s column and I’d love it if you all went over and showed some support.

ya interrobang yainterrobangFor those unfamiliar with YA Interrobang (@yainterrobang), it’s an online magazine all about the world of Young Adult literature. In other words: everything right up my alley. Though you may be skeptical since they only launched in August 2013, trust me, Nicole knows what she’s doing, and she had created an awesome ‘zine. There’s Author News, rants, event announcements, giveaways (who doesn’t love a good giveaway??) and so much more. The content is quality and there’s a lot of it. Ever since I Twitter-met Nicole at BEA earlier this year, I’ve been a fan.

So go read my interview, and go support another awesome blog.

Bloggers unite!

Letdown-iversary

Womp womp…

Okay folks, I was PLANNING on writing a big, bright, shining awesome entry today because it’s nearly the third anniversary of the inception of BookSick. Some of you may recall last year I mentioned that someone purchased the domain for booksick.com and I marked in my calendar the expiration date – today! I woke up early, charged with purpose, to snatch up the name. Well… it didn’t quite work out as I intended. What resulted was about two hours of frustration, and an unintentional course on the registration, expiration, and ownership of domains, from which I gathered the following:

Perks:
– The (old) booksick.com site has been down for several months. I’ve checked periodically.
– The current domain owner has allowed the renewal to lapse.

Drawbacks:
– There’s a 27 day renewal grace period, during which time, the current owner may renew.
– If unclaimed, the domain is put on hold for 30-45 days.
– Then there’s ANOTHER 30 days for the original owner to repurchase. (How many chances do they get? Come on!)

If I’m Desperate:
– I can backorder the domain through services like GoDaddy (ick ick ick!)
– Hire a domain acquisitions agent (ugh…)
– End up spending upwards of several hundreds of dollars. (NOT happening!)

I could possibly get the domain now, but I would have to hire someone for $69 to then negotiate with the owner, which could cause them to renew and then inflate the cost. Then pay a 10% commission to the agent (which they’re saying has to be a minimum of $60) which means I would be spending upwards of $730 — when I could have purchased it through WordPress for a measly $25. Why won’t I let this go? Or why not go for the .net or .co? Or what about booksickblog.com instead?

No. Why? Because – and that’s that. This domain WILL be mine. Period.

Until then, I’m going to play the waiting game. After all these periods of holding and pending and deleting from the Registry, assuming no one else in the world wants this domain, I should be able to pick it up once it is released back into the public pool. So basically, by the middle of November, if all goes well, I can then purchase the domain without paying crazy amounts of fees.

Please, give me strength to hold out until then!

“You’re Hired”

Can I talk about this yet? I think so? Yes!

To those in the blogosphere that may not follow me on Facebook or Twitter and may have missed my ecstatic postings of jubilation, I was chosen out of many-many-many candidates as the new Young Adult Services Coordinator at The Jones Library. It was quite a process, but I got the job. I’m simply over the moon with excitement, and at the end of my 2nd week, I feel great. Everywhere I go in the library, I meet people who say “Oh, YOU’RE the new YA person!” and they congratulate and my face flushes while I thank them and wave off the compliment… but it is so invigorating to feel so accepted and appreciated in this new place. It’s so refreshing to walk in to that building, and I couldn’t be more honored to be selected for such an important position.

Don’t get me wrong, after four years of employment at my previous retail job, I was taken care of, and I really do respect my old coworkers…I would not trade that time or experience for anything. I hope people out there realize how important customer service really is, and understand that it’s NOT difficult to be nice and smile, even when you’re having a bad day. Lashing out and being a DB doesn’t gain any respect or make you friends. So please… everyone… be nice to everyone else! (At least pleasant!) Okay – end of lecture!

Next step: graduation! With only four courses left, my MLS degree is nearly complete. Soon I can officially call myself a Librarian – with a capital L.

A Heart Full Of Love

Living on an island is sort of like living in the Midwest, right? One experiences the same feelings of isolation and note the distinct lack of cosmopolitanism… at least I did, especially in middle school. Though, admittedly, I didn’t quite know what I was missing until I left for boarding school and realized how big the world really was. Might I add: my boarding school was next to The-Middle-Of-Nowhere, Virginia, and I thought THAT was the big, wide world! Had I gone to New York City, I most certainly would have come down with a case of the vapors.

better nate than ever tim federle

 

So I commend our little Nate Foster for not fainting as he stepped off that Greyhound bus, having the wherewithal to navigate the city, and the balls guts to crash an audition. Better Nate Than Ever by Tim Federle is the first (I think) middle-grade book I’ve reviewed for this blog, and if any others are as enjoyable as this (Five, Six, Seven, Nate!) I may find myself branching out to a new audience.

Having met Tim on his Tequila Mockingbird book tour – a book for a very different audience! – middle-grade readers had never crossed my mind, because I’m always overwrought with YA. Maybe it was the boozy (delicious) literary libations that weakened my predisposition, or perhaps Tim’s charm, but I very soon found myself with a copy of his wonderful book. Now… that was over a year ago… but that’s also why I chose it as one of my Must Read books of this year, and devoured it this weekend.

For those seeking an elevator speech for Better Nate Than Ever: it’s about a young boy from a small town in Pennsylvania who is bursting with joie de vivre, and hatches a grand plan with his best friend to somehow make it to New York City and audition for E.T. – The Musical.

For those seeking a bit more: my heart aches with love for this book. Sort of like when your cat does something remarkably sweet like (not puke on the floor) tilt their head and nuzzle your leg… and your heart grows three-sizes bigger, Grinch-style, and you break the wire-meter-x-ray-screen-thing. Not only does Tim capture the energy and essence of what it’s like to be thirteen, his humor and style capture ,and keep me in, the world of Nate Foster’s NYC, but he also ensnares the heart… An untainted, honest, hope-filled love.

“There is such a rush into Port Authority, exiting the bus and then mazing through a series of escalators, that all I have to do is lean just slightly back and the crowd literally surges me along.”  … “Exactly. Good luck kid,” and he leans back and gets swept up in the surge, his head bopping along…”

THAT is New York. I’ve felt the exact same way each time I visit the city, even now in my 20’s. Can’t you just picture it happening? Or what about…

“I’m mumbling through a mouthful of horrible rye toast, toast that tastes like it was baked three years ago and set out in the sun.”

I’m dying. This is why I hate rye bread.

“Sometimes there is no greater act of adulthood than swearing in front of your own mother.”

And how true is that??

Though I’m quite a number of years beyond this book’s intended audience, Tim has so aptly included little nuggets that appeal to older readers. It is so clear to see why Better Nate Than Ever is a book that teachers and librarians are raving about. This is a book that teaches so much. It kills me to hear that some of Tim’s appearances promoting this treasure have been cancelled, especially in his own hometown. (You deserve better!) We need diverse books. It’s 2014, people – time to update your profiles and realize the world is changing, so why don’t you lean back, just slightly, and ride along. Pick up Better Nate Than Ever, you’ll fall in love, and that’s exactly what this world needs.

Guest Review: Landline

Love. Writing. Adventure.

by Garrett Pinder

It’s rare that I’m able to connect with a book on a level that really resonates with me, but Landline by Rainbow Rowell did. Better known for her wildly popular YA novel Eleanor & Park, Rowell carried me along with her easy flowing prose in this, her fourth book. At BEA 2014, I had the pleasure of meeting her as she signed an ARC (advanced reader copy) of the book. (Out now!)

Landline by Rainbow RowellLandline Signed by Rainbow Rowell

What’s it about?

We enter the story finding Georgie and Neal in the doldrums of marriage, struggling to manage work and care for their two young girls. Christmas is swiftly approaching, and the family has plans to visit Neal’s mother in Omaha for the holidays, when Georgie is offered a once in a lifetime opportunity at work. Unfortunately, this opportunity conflicts with travel plans, and Neal bitterly insists Georgie stay home while he takes…

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Permanent Collection

After adding my newest addition, Land Of Love and Drowning by Tiphanie Yanique, to my shelves last night, I realized just how many books I have signed and dedicated to my name. This is a double-edged sword, my friends, because in my pursuit of reading and book-buying, there are some books I simply cannot part with. It all comes down to the signature. I shy away from the word “collected” because I wouldn’t consider myself a collector of signatures, but I really have gathered a fair number already, simply by attending author events. Many are personally dedicated to me, which make the books incredibly special – I’m reminded that I have made a connection with the author in some way. This also solidifies the book’s place on my shelves. In light of my recent separation from several entries, these with signatures will never be resold or donated (unless to another family member, I suppose), making them permanently and steadfastly mine. I totally have Middle-Child-MINE-Syndrome.

Below is the list of books* I have signatures (sig) and dedications (ded) in:

  1. Witch Island – David Bernstein sig/ded
  2. The Coldest Girl in Coldtown – Holly Black sig/ded
  3. Fat Angie – e.E. Charlton-Trujillo sig/ded
  4. City of Bones – Cassandra Clare sig
  5. Emissary – Patricia Cori sig/ded
  6. The Search for WondLa – Tony DiTerlizzi sig/ded
  7. All I Know and Love – Judith Frank sig/ded
  8. Endgame – James Frey and Nils Johnson-Shelton sig
  9. Magician’s Land – Lev Grossman sig/ded
  10. Flying Shoes – Lisa Howorth sig/ded
  11. I Am Not Myself These Days – Josh Kilmer-Purcell sig/ded
  12. Evil Librarian – Michelle Knudsen sig/ded
  13. We Were Liars – E. Lockhart sig/ded
  14. Dorothy Must Die – Danielle Paige sig/ded
  15. Mort(e) – Robert Repino sig/ded
  16. Jackaby – William Ritter sig/ded
  17. Eleanor & Park – Rainbow Rowell sig
  18. Landline – Rainbow Rowell sig/ded
  19. A Sudden Light – Garth Stein sig/ded
  20. Land of Love and Drowning – Tiphanie Yanique sig/ded
  21. Briar Rose – Jane Yolen sig/ded

*A number of these books are ARCs from BEA ’14

A Hero’s Impact

Why didn’t I read this when I was younger? I had to go back through my old Amazon.com orders to remember when I purchased this book, and it turns out it was part of one of the last orders I ever made when I was still living in Richmond, Virginia. I ordered this book along with The Meaning of Matthew by Judy Shepard, the Enchanted DVD, and a Pokemon graphic novel — a pretty odd assortment, yet strangely appropriate.

hero perry moore

 

Of the sixteen books that survived my Gauntlet, this was actually one of the first I finished. (My hold for the audiobook version came in before some of the others, which was remarkably well done.) Also of the ones I’ve read from the list, this may be one of my favorites… and it is so bittersweet. I think I said bittersweet in one of my last reviews… it is so tragic.

Hero is about a teenage boy named Thom. His mother is presumed to be dead. His father is a smidge gruff  and stern, but still lovable.  They live in a world where Superheroes exist. !n fact, his father is a Super, but has become estranged from The League. Like many teenaged boys, Thom is trying to live up to his father’s expectations… but also hide some pretty big secrets: 1) he has superpowers and 2) he is gay. Throughout the book, Thom struggles with acceptance, fitting in, dating, discovering who he really is… which is all quite typical in my opinion. So what makes this book so appealing?

First, superheroes are awesome. The cast of characters in this novel are incredibly memorable. Thom has to go through an initiation of sorts at The League’s headquarters and is assigned to a team of similarly skilled budding new Supers, including Typhoid Larry (walking CDC nightmare), Scarlett (flying, fireball-throwing pizza delivery girl), and Ruth (chain-smoking, future-seeing old crone).  Oh, Thom’s power is being able to heal things. The team is sent out on little missions and things, and start to uncover conspiracies within The League… all really solid elements. Good good good.

Second, and I point this out second because it’s not the main part of the story, Thom’s sexuality, accepting himself for not only being a Super, but for also being gay, and discovering a bit of romance. There is a tenderness to Thom that makes him so likable. He is also self-deprecating in an endearing sort of way. (Because what teen isn’t a little self-deprecating?) There are so many wonderful passages in Hero… the prose is not only elegant, but also witty. I want to paste oh, so many of them here… but instead I’ll tell you to go read the book.

As for the tragedy: Perry Moore died of an accidental drug overdose in 2011. He was the executive producer of The Chronicles of Narnia film series (2005 – 2010). He was born and raised in Richmond, Virginia, he graduated from Norfolk Academy, interned at the Virginia Film Fest… And I knew none of this at the time I purchased the book. Moore was working on a sequel to Hero sometime before he died. Thankfully, I don’t think a sequel would be necessary, but it would at least satisfy everyone’s questions of “what next?” Hero was wrapped up pretty well. There were a few surprises that spurred on some tears, but I attribute that to the impact of the audiobook.

And so, Hero entered my life some four years ago in a rag-tag Amazon order, in the author’s hometown (that I will always fondly think of as another home,) and made the journey with me to forge a new life, where I “became more and more of who I really was, and less of this person I thought wanted to be.”

“Once in a while, life gives you a chance to measure your worth. Sometimes you’re called upon to make a split-second decision to do the right thing, defining which way your life will go. These are the decisions that make you who you are.”

Thanks, Perry Moore – your Hero made quite an impact on this reader.